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Ambassador Bill Taylor’s testimony makes a liar of Gordon Sondland and is bad for Trump

[Bill Taylor]

Attorney Scott Pilutik wrestles with the news of the day, from a lawyerly perspective…

As expected, ambassador Bill Taylor’s testimony today was bad for the White House and Trump. It was expected because, if you recall, Taylor was the one who texted Gordon Sondland that he felt it was “crazy to withhold security assistance for help with a political campaign.”

Taylor testified today that Trump wanted Ukraine’s President Zelensky “in a public box” by making public that he was ordering the investigations, and that everything Zelensky wanted (the aid, the White House meeting) was contingent on announcing the investigation.

Recall that Sondland testified somewhat similarly, albeit less conclusively, but also that he (Sondland) didn’t know anything about Trump’s request to investigate Biden. Taylor’s testimony made a liar of Sondland, who is trying to have it both ways but is fully in over his head.

At the time Sondland claims to not have known about Trump’s Biden request, the entire newspaper-reading world knew, so while we may never be able to absolutely ascertain Sondland’s actual knowledge at the time, his claim to have been unaware was already ludicrous before Taylor’s testimony today.

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I think the House should make an example of Sondland, whose testimony included many more omissions and implausibilities. Bring him back in and fill in the gaps.

Taylor’s testimony also puts a nail in the coffin of the no quid pro quo argument, since that’s precisely what he’s described.

But remember, the House doesn’t need to show a quid pro quo, which was merely thrown out by the White House as a talking point. But it’s at least worth pointing out that even when the White House moves the goalposts they’re still giving up a touchdown.

Here’s Taylor’s opening statement, 15 pages long.

It’s nuts.

What strikes me is something I’d already suspected but which this makes clear:

Trump didn’t want an investigation into the Bidens…, he wanted the very public announcement of an investigation by Zelensky himself (even rejecting the idea that a prosecutor could instead announce) into the Bidens. Trump even offered up language he wanted Zelensky to use: “We will leave no stone unturned.”

As far as moving the narrative forward, Taylor really dumps this directly on Trump, whom he depicts as micromanaging every aspect, right down to writing copy for the leader of a strategic foreign ally before that leader would receive foreign aid. Nauseating.

But again, this distinction is important, I think. Trump wasn’t interested in “corruption,” per se, as the WH has repeatedly tried to generalize, it only wanted the announcement off which Trump could then play. Whether Ukraine actually investigated the Bidens or not, who cares? The important thing was that Ukraine appear to be investigating the Bidens.

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